The 2018 NFL Draft is just one day away and that means we are about to see where former Wyoming QB Josh Allen will begin his professional football career. Allen is about to make a whole bunch of Wyoming Cowboy football NFL Draft history. If he is picked in the top ten of the draft as expected he will be:
- The first Wyoming Cowboy drafted in the first round since 1976. In that draft, RB Lawrence Gaines was taken with the 16th pick by the Detroit Lions and DB Aaron Kyle was selected by the Dallas Cowboys with the 27th pick.
- The highest player picked since 1994 when WR Ryan Yarbrough was chosen with the 12th pick in the second round by the New York Jets.
- The highest drafted Cowboy ever, topping DT Ronald Billingsley who was tabbed with the 14th overall pick by the San Diego Chargers in 1967.
Much has been said about Allen as he has gone through the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine and his pro day in Laramie. Many talent evaluators and draft experts like his skill set and potential while others are predicting that he will be a bust. The ones who say he is…
Now as you know I’m a big stats guy and do many of my blogs breaking down the numbers inside the game. These numbers can be abused though and if the lazy analysis brigade can say Josh Allen will be a bust because he only completed 56% of his passes last season then I can give some context as to why in comparison to the other top QBs in this class.
Wyoming runs a pro-style offense with an emphasis on the vertical passing game. Part of the vertical nature of the passing game is by design and some of it was because of the gunslinger mentality of Josh Allen. In his 11 games this season, Allen threw a total of 149 passes that were ten yards or less which averages out to 13.5 passes per game. When you compare these numbers to the other top signal callers in this draft class you will see his short passing numbers are significantly lower.
2018 NFL Draft Top QBs, Total Passes of Ten Yards or Less
|QB||Games||Total Passes||Passes Per Game|
Using the chart above, let’s have some fun with math. The average amount of short passes (passes of ten yards or less) by the other three QBs is right around 20 passes per game. If you boost Josh Allen’s passing numbers to 20 short passes per game from his 13.5 short passes of last season with the same completion percentage of 74.4% he had on short passes in 2017, the numbers are quite interesting. His passing stats would go from 152 of 270 (56%) to 209 of 347 (60%).
Now this 60% passing completion percentage is important because it is the magical number that has been touted by experts as the difference between a good and bad quarterback. If Wyoming ran a more pass-friendly offense that looked to throw screens and other easy throws, Allen’s completion percentage would have easily been at 60% or higher and you would not hear this criticism of his game.
Now I’m not bringing this up as proof that Allen will be a great or even good NFL quarterback because the truth is we don’t know. Of the four projected highly drafted QBs chances are one of them might be great/good, one more might be serviceable, and the other two will probably fall far below their NFL projection. The question is who will fall where on this spectrum in five to seven years? We will have to wait to find out.
In the long run, this passing accuracy criticism will probably be good for Josh Allen. It has forced him to work very hard with his QB coach former UTEP QB Jordan Palmer to improve his footwork and mechanics. This will serve him well because no one enters the NFL as a finished product and he has shown he is willing to change and is coachable.
Josh Allen has overcome the odds out of high school, JUCO and now Wyoming to reach this point. I’m certainly not going to count him out of future NFL success just because he didn’t throw 10 screen passes per game for the Cowboys as other college QBs now do in these modern college style offenses. Josh Allen’s passing accuracy problem is a bit of a tempest in a teapot from the draft media circles.
Our wait to see where Josh Allen lands is now just a day away. I encourage all Cowboy fans to sit back and enjoy the ride because history says we will never see someone like #17 in Laramie ever again.